VIDEO Who’s in Charge?

The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:1

Every parent goes through the process of establishing with their toddlers—lovingly, reasonably, but firmly—who’s in charge. It’s built into human nature to recognize authority: There can only be one chef in the kitchen, one driver in the car, and one chairperson of the board. Most likely, the recognition of authority comes from the fact that we were created in the image of God who is, without question, in charge.

God made that clear early on: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3). The practical implications of God’s authority mean that His will and desires are more important than ours. Think of the innumerable plans and preparations we make in a day, not to mention a lifetime. Whether we consciously submit those plans to God or not, He weighs in. And the end result of our plans comes from Him.

If you are making plans today, submit them to God. If God’s answer is different from your plans, be ready to embrace the changes He makes.

God has no problems, only plans. Corrie ten Boom


Proverbs 16:1-18 – Jon Courson

Loving God

We know and rely on the love God has for us .1 John 4:16

The professor ended his online class in one of two ways each time. He’d say, “See you next time” or “Have a good weekend.” Some students would respond with “Thank you. You too!” But one day a student responded, “I love you.” Surprised, he replied, “I love you too!” That evening the classmates agreed to create an “I love you chain” for the next class time in appreciation for their professor who had to teach to a screen on his computer, not in-person teaching as he preferred. A few days later when he finished teaching, the professor said, “See you next time,” and one by one the students replied, “I love you.” They continued this practice for months. The teacher said this created a strong bond with his students, and he now feels they’re “family.”

In 1 John 4:10–21, we, as part of God’s family, find several reasons to say “I love you” to Him: He sent His Son as a sacrifice for our sin (v. 10). He gave us His Spirit to live in us (vv. 13, 15). His love is always reliable (v. 16), and we never need to fear judgment (v. 17). He enables us to love Him and others “because he first loved us” (v. 19).

The next time you gather with God’s people, take time to share your reasons for loving Him. Making an “I love you” chain for God will bring Him praise and bring you closer together.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

Why do you love God? How can you show others His love?

I’m grateful to know Your love and to be a part of Your family, Father. Show me ways to creatively express that love.

Developing Convictions

Learning the Bible is essential for Christians, but so is being able to explain why we believe its doctrines

Colossians 2:1-8

A seedling needs nutrients and time to grow into a tall, sturdy tree. In the same way, our convictions develop gradually through committed Bible study and prayer. In order to be firmly planted in biblical truth, we can’t simply hold up the Bible and claim we believe every word. We need to know why we’re convinced that the basic doctrines of the faith are true. 

Here are some questions to help you get started:

• Why do you consider the Bible to be true and trustworthy? 

• Why is Jesus Christ the only way to be saved? 

• What is the Holy Spirit’s role in the lives of believers and unbelievers? 

• What does the Bible say about stewardship of the earth?

• How should you think and act with regard to issues of justice and oppression? 

It’s my hope that these questions will cause you to contemplate how your personal philosophies have developed. Study the Bible and make it the cornerstone of your thinking. Evaluate what God says rather than looking at an issue through the lens of personal preference.  Ground yourself in Scripture. Then whenever a new philosophy comes along, you’ll be able to stand firm in the faith without wavering.

Altar Building

“And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:7)

This is the first reference to Abraham building an altar in Scripture. Building an altar and making sacrifice to God denotes total dependence and reliance on Him. It implies saying no to self and yes to God—in effect presenting one’s self in submission to God as a sinner, trusting Him for gracious handling of one’s sin, and discounting one’s value apart from His work. Building altars became a habit with godly Abraham, the “friend of God” (James 2:23), and he practiced it many times during his life (see also Genesis 12:8; 13:4, 18).

We can surmise that at an early age, Abraham’s son, Isaac, was taught this same practice. It doesn’t seem that Isaac misunderstood or debated the situation, even when he himself was identified as the sacrifice to be slaughtered (Genesis 22:9). He fully trusted and worshiped the same God, and evidently agreed with Abraham’s obedient act. Later, Isaac himself practiced altar-building at least once on his own (26:25).

Compare Abraham and his family to Lot and his family. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Lot built an altar and recognized God as worthy of worship. No doubt as a direct result, Lot’s wife, sons, and daughters totally rejected these ideas, preferring the sinful practices and mentality of Sodom. Lot was a true believer (2 Peter 2:7-8), but his lifestyle and lack of “altar-building” rubbed off on his family, to the detriment of himself and the people of God ever since.

Here is the question: Do we want to be Christians who ignore proper worship and total submission to God and have families who do likewise? We don’t build physical altars today, but we do need daily times of family prayer. JDM

Song of the Suffering Servant

First Movement: The Eloquence of Darkness—Part 1

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? [Why are You] so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning? (Psalm 22 v. 1).

When I face an obstacle that I can’t go over, under, or around, I need to acknowledge my pain and helplessness. Denial and fantasy only compound my problem with dishonesty. I need to look squarely at my situation and admit my inability to resolve it.

The parallels between this psalm and Christ’s crucifixion are astounding. This exquisite lyric poetry portrays deep personal shame and intense suffering. Reading it makes me feel vicariously what Christ went through to win my redemption on the darkest day in history. Since Christ lived the experiences described here and quotes it in the New Testament, I believe this lament applies to him.

Throbbing with urgency and immediacy, the first movement of this psalm (vv. 1-21) eloquently portrays darkness in several related themes:

First, David cried out to God (vv. 1-2).“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” According to Gospel accounts, Christ said these exact words at the height of his agony on the cross (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). As death closed in, Christ felt that his Father had turned his back on him and had withdrawn protection. He felt helpless, disoriented, and betrayed.

Second, David remembered history (vv. 3-5). He praised the Lord and affirmed his holiness by citing the experiences of his fathers who trusted God through adversity and were delivered.

Third, David described the suffering servant’s experience of shame (vv. 6-8). Scorned and despised, he was mocked by a blood-thirsty crowd that was cynical and cruel.

Fourth, David reflected on God’s care (vv. 9-11). The Hebrew word for trust means “to lie prone—completely helpless.” David trusted God from the beginning—even from birth. He pleaded for God to be close because there was no one else to help.

Personal Prayer

Help me, Father, to identify my suffering and need with the Savior. Help me, by faith, to become aware that when I participate in his sufferings, I also share in his glory.

To Look at You

They saw no one except Him—Jesus alone.—Matthew 17:8

When we gaze at Christ’s face and make Him the center of our attention and love, then we are gradually and continuously changed into the likeness of Christ. Thus we are transformed from one degree of glory to another, the Spirit within us being the silent Artist who makes us into His image. We become like Him in character and in countenance.

A young man was so much like his father in appearance that it prompted everyone who knew him to comment on the fact. The mother said: “It’s strange, because when Andrew was a small child, he looked so much like me. Then, when he was about five, he became intrigued with being with his father. He used to go into his father’s study and sit there until his father would say, ‘Is there anything you want?’ Andrew would reply, ‘No, I don’t want anything; I just want to look at you.’ He would sit there and lovingly gaze into his father’s face for such a long time that I honestly believe this is how he has come to look so much like him.”

Just as there is a law in photography that says: “The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection”—in other words, if you want a full-face reproduction, you must look full-face into the camera—so there is a law in life that causes us to become like that on which we gaze. If we look sideways on Christ, we get only a partial reflection. If we look fully at Him, we get a full reflection. We become like that on which we gaze.

Prayer

My Lord and my God, forgive me that so often I just give You a sideways glance when I ought to be continuously gazing into Your Face. Help me to behold You, so that I am transformed from what I am into what You are. Amen.

Further Study

Mk 5:1-20; Lk 23:44-49; Mt 27:55-56

What was the centurion’s response?

What did the demoniac do when he saw Jesus?

Christ the Door

John 10:9

You are The Door But I’m afraid of You! What shall I find If I should venture through?

The door to what?

To where?

I’d like to know.

The destination please,

And then I’ll go!

Through You I shall find Peace perhaps, or pain? Through You I may know Struggle, stress and strain! But answers I have anguished To find out Shall be revealed Through You I have no doubt!

The Door to Hope,

To Love,

To all that’s true,

The Door to God Himself

O Christ,

That’s You!

John Gowans, O Lord!